Instagram has 600 million active users every month, and marketers have the ability to reach thousands of different demographics as users add to the 95 million photos and videos uploaded every day.

When looking at this year’s social media trends, the Instagram marketing space is flooded with new brands and their messages at a constant pace.

Instagram is crowded. It takes a creative and effective strategy to get the results you want with your marketing. These 10 secrets will help your content cut through the noise and get your piece of the pie.

1. Understand the Instagram hashtag culture.

The distinction between Instagram hashtags and branded hashtags can help organize your posts and bring attention to your content through multiple topics.

Instagram universal hashtags, such as the ones that correlate to days of the week, are some of the most used hashtags on the platform. They provide a perfect opportunity to appeal to emotion, mood, nostalgia, and other characteristics.

Use general hashtags to help you be found in products and lifestyle posts. It also keeps you updated on trending tags associated with your content for the opportunity to have it seen by thousands in a matter of minutes.

2. Understand your industry and brand hashtag culture.

Include your business name in unique tags for any contests and campaigns that you run. A unique tag for these promotions makes it easy for your audience to connect around your posts as well as see check out the competition for any contests you may be running.

In addition, by creating specific tags and linking them on different mediums, you have the ability to both track your engagement generated from a specific source and track the interest in specific content that you produce.

3. Focus on your customers.

Make your followers famous by reposting their videos and pictures on your brand’s instagram account. Show you appreciate them by acknowledging their cool content and sharing it with your other followers. Doing so will help build a personal relationship.

Like your followers photos when they include your product or connect with your brand in any way. Show you care by commenting on followers posts and responding to all comments on your account, especially if they are something negative. Make your business Instagram about lifestyle and authentically connecting with your customers.

4. Leverage influencer networks.

It’s no secret influencer marketing is on the rise. Working with influencers and tastemakers in your industry helps you gain huge levels of exposure by leveraging the relationships they have with your customers.

Get influencer and celebrity attention by “@Mentioning” on posts that you think would appeal to them or posts that directly involve them either in content or context. The opportunity for collaboration here is huge for growing awareness.

Even something as simple as having an influencer repost your content can create impressive results.

5. Show your stuff creatively.

Use cool angles, lighting, and other photography tricks to make your content more appealing to the eye before you even upload it can make a huge difference. Applying creative filters to that content will make it even more eye catching for your audience.

To build your brand on Instagram, showcase your products creatively and authentically by promoting your product as they are used in real life by real customers to increase credibility and grow a community around your brand.
Share exclusive content on Instagram that isn’t on your other channels to make your followers feel special and give people a reason to follow you there, especially when they’re already following you elsewhere.

6. Document your events from end to end.

If you’re about to launch a product, hold a speaking engagement, or anything else that you want people to be excited about, share related content with your Instagram followers.

For example, posting a short video tease of an upcoming product to generate excitement will help build the prelaunch momentum without giving away too much.

Take that one step further by sharing the preparation for your event, behind the scenes work that goes into the setup, and the post-launch cleanup or staff celebrations. All these are great ways to build an authentic relationship with your audience and get extra value from your efforts.

7. Get your customer’s opinions.

Post questions about your business and/or products on Instagram to generate strategy ideas and get people talking about products. People love to talk about their preferences and share their opinions, so ask your followers for them.

Asking which is a favorite type of product, or inquiring about specifics related to a topic you’re an expert on will help you immensely when it comes deciding where to best focus your efforts going forward.

8. Run contests.

Run an Instagram hashtag or photo contest. Contests allow your followers to upload content under a certain hashtag. Instagram will add it to your contest page. All the content they upload displayed within the contest can be hosted on other channels.

Contests are great because they offer a tangible incentive for people to follow your account, contribute, boost your chosen hashtags, and promote that content to their friends.

Include a public voting aspect in the contest to get your customers sharing the content with their networks and promoting your brand in the process.

9. Crowdsource content.

Asking your followers to post content to Instagram and mention your brand or include specific hashtags reverse engineers Instagram marketing. This leverages a personalized relationship you have already built with them or offering a cool incentive.

Brands that have put in the work to engage with their followers might create a fun and creative post asking for followers to submit photos of their product without offering an incentive or prize in return. But offering a cool prize or hosting a contest is a great way to increase the response no matter where you are in relationship building process.

Crowdsourced content helps you gain valuable marketing insight and spread the word about your brand in a credible and authentic way.

10. Start the conversation.

Show you care by asking questions about your followers lifestyles as it relates to a product or service you provide.

Understanding how your offering fits into the lives of consumers gives you the opportunity to engage with them about their preferences. For example, if you’re a music store, posting a picture of guitar strings and asking what guitar your followers think they sound the best on is an example of how to promote specific products.

Asking your users to caption photos or fill in the blank for a caption you provide also helps you get insight into the psychology of your consumer. This creates better messages going forward and identifies places to innovate your marketing and products.

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